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Driven round the bend by roundabout delays

Construction on the Te Ore Ore Rd roundabout was in full swing on Friday. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

Masterton’s 20 rainy days partially to blame

TOM TAYLOR
[email protected]

Work on a Masterton roundabout is at least a month behind schedule after delays caused by lockdown and bad weather, but a nearby business owner says construction is disrupting his trade.

Beginning in May, the construction of a roundabout at the Te Ore Ore Rd, Blair St, and Totara St intersection aimed to improve road safety in the area near Wairarapa Hospital.

Masterton District Council said it had received regular complaints from the public about the safety of road users, especially when turning right off Te Ore Ore Rd.

The roundabout was initially scheduled for completion at the end of September but had been extended until November.

Construction company Downer was completing the job, which came at a contracted cost of $746,000. Waka Kotahi paid for 58 per cent of the project, with the remaining 42 per cent funded by the council.

Hospital Foodmarket and Thirsty Liquor Masterton owner Raj Patel said work on the roundabout had prevented people from visiting his stores.

He estimated his trade was down 70 per cent compared with previous years.

Construction has resumed on the Te Ore Ore Rd roundabout.

During most of the construction, traffic exiting Masterton had to turn left up Cooper St instead of continuing straight along Te Ore Ore Rd.

Patel said most of his business usually came from people stopping on their way home from town, with his stores on the left side of the road.

The diversion up Cooper St prevented these potential customers from stopping.

He said about 30 per cent of his business usually came from Totara St residents, who now faced a detour of up to 2km around the block.

“It’s totally blocked. Most people don’t want the hassle,” Patel said.

He said the lockdown had already affected his business – and when the lockdown finished, the construction resumed.

“When it is bad weather, business is down. When it is good weather, they [the construction crews] are here, so there’s no business for me… lockdown is hard for everyone, but this is similar to lockdown for me.”

In a letter to residents before construction began, Downer and the council wrote that work would begin on May 17 and finish on September 29.

“For best results, we can only carry out this work in favourable weather. On days when the weather is unfavourable, we may not be on site.”

A council spokesperson said the lockdown had paused work on the project.

He said the lockdown had also affected the availability of specialist equipment for the work, including milling equipment to prepare the road’s surface before sealing.

“Weather also has an impact on asphalting – it cannot be laid in wet conditions,” the spokesperson said.

According to MetService, Masterton had 20 days of rain in September.

The construction of refuge islands for pedestrians could only begin after the sealing was complete.

The project would also include pedestrian crossings at the Totara St and Blair St approaches to the roundabout, improvements to the pavement, and drainage work around the intersection.

The spokesperson said the road needed to cope with about 4700 vehicle movements a day, including five per cent heavy vehicles.

“Construction of the roundabout also makes the intersection with Blair St viable for any future development of the vacant land on the corner of Te Ore Ore Rd and SH2. The previous road layout severely limited options for the site.”

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